This I Believe

Judy - Owasso, Oklahoma
Entered on April 3, 2007
Age Group: 30 - 50

I remember weeding my flowerbed. I hadn’t done much gardening before…I didn’t really like getting my hands dirty…but I found some catharsis in sticking the spade into the hard ground, turning it over and sorting through the mess. “Here’s a weed.” I thought as hurtful words stuck in my mind. “Don’t need that one for sure.” I tried to erase the memory. “Throw that one out.” I thought. Feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness I threw out with the sticker weeds. I kept as much dirt as possible, but tried to get every smidgen of weeds right down to their hair-like roots, discarding them in big black trash bags.

At some point, I reminded myself that nurturing the flowers was just as important as throwing away the weeds. Here is the love of my parents, the excitement of first love. Here’s the birth of our children, our first home, vacations. It took a long time for me to be able to look at the flowers; the weeds were so ugly and prickly and some vined themselves around the flowers, threatening the flowers’ very existence. Sometimes I found looking at the flowers more painful than the weeds. They reminded me of better times when the bed was brilliant with color and the weeds were few. As I surveyed the damage, I wondered what my part was in all this. Did I ignore the garden so long as to allow this? What weeds did I plant? I should have watered more.

Perhaps I could have just tilled up the entire garden, but the weeds didn’t make the flowers less beautiful, less fragrant. Finally, I decided to enjoy the flowers and use the weeds. Just as time, moisture, and blending break down the weeds; time, contemplation and love combine to shape the perspective that ferments my past. Perspective turns denial into honesty; pain into empathy; self-loathing into forgiveness and frustration into acceptance. Perspective helps me realize that it only matters who was at fault when it was me and even then, regret is useful only when it moves me to do things differently in the future.

I believe that some of the experiences in my life need little digesting; they feed the garden that is my soul like “Miracle Grow” Others need time to sit and heat, be stirred and oxygenated before they turn to the rich, moist compost that aids me in my search for the sunlight.